From the beginning, men and women alike voyaged across oceans to reach the land of opportunity and independence. A place that ensured that all men were created equal, that “certain unalienable Rights” including “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” could not be stripped from them. That they would no longer be under the thumb of an overbearing ruler, and were free of judgment from their more “superior” counterparts. But two-hundred-and-forty-three years later, many social groups have yet to receive this notion in its full effect. Webster’s dictionary defines the American dream as a happy way of living that is thought of by many Americans as something that can be achieved by anyone in the U.S. especially by working hard and becoming successful. But to many minorities, this idea seems simply unachievable due to some social inequalities. Though what exactly is a minority and which groups does it include? Contributors at Lumen Learning state that minority groups are defined by their lack of power—it includes any group of people who because of their physical or cultural characteristics, are singled out from the others in society in which they live for differential and unequal treatment (Lumen Learning, n.d.). This includes women, people of color (black, Hispanic, Asian, Native, etc.), the LGBTQ community, and young adults.
Women’s rights, women’s suffrage, the 400 years of oppression and slavery of black Americans and the debt peonage that followed, segregation, the lynching of black children and gays, the anti-gay legal system in the 1950s and 1960s, the dehumanization of Asians to justify the Vietnam war, the near annihilation of Native Americans just for the expansion of land—all initial background on social inequality in the United States. Today, even though we’ve mostly progressed from that horrific era, there is still some injustices that have yet to be solved.
Gender pay gaps greatly affect women no matter their level of degree or their area of expertise. Studies show that educational statuses from no high school diploma to an advanced college degree, men’s salaries have a distinct edge above their female counterparts: from 6,000 to a 23,000-dollar pay gap (Benokraitis, 2015). This gap completely devalues a woman’s work and her contribution to society. Nijole V. Benokraitis discusses gender and the workplace, one of the leading topics being Occupational Sex Segregation, “the process of channeling women and men into different types of jobs” (2015). Many women are employed in jobs that are involved in either healthcare or childcare while men are taught to take on more physically exerting jobs such as policemen or even something financially beneficial such as becoming a successful business tycoon. These ideas are almost subliminally deposited into our heads through film, television, books, and even following in the footsteps of one’s parents. And people of color suffer to social inequality every day. The majority of their lives they live alongside these discriminatory and prejudiced ideas thought up by one who does not care for any other culture besides their own, leading them to belittle and generalize an entire race down to an uncultivated stereotype. Due to these prejudged and discriminatory beliefs, many people of color do not have access to the same job opportunities as their white counterparts. People of color do not experience the same educational opportunities as their white counterparts either. Like any other school, poor income schools have a hidden curriculum too (nonacademic knowledge, values, attitudes, norms, and beliefs), but in these poor income schools, their curriculum centrally focuses on stressing obedience, following directions, and punctuality (Benokraitis, 2015). This prepares these low-income neighborhood children for their future in the blue-collar work, low paid jobs, or even prison. Because of their racial backgrounds, colored men, women, and children do not have the same equal opportunity to basic necessities like proper healthcare, quality housing and schooling compared to white Americans. This may be due to the prejudice against colored Americans. No one looks twice at a white man walking down the street at night, no one blames tardiness on a white man’s skin, and no one addresses the color of a white man’s skin when he achieves good grades in school. And Let us not forget about the homophobic nature some of our fellow Americans possess. About forty percent of Americans are opposed to same-sex marriage, most of them being Republican, white, and male (Benokraitis, 2015). These are the same people who blatantly express their disgust for same-sex couples and its immorality, excrete judgment, and then go and attend religious services.
But what efforts have been made to address these issues? Plenty of efforts have been made to diminish the wage-gap between men and women yet no legal course of action has been put through. Same-sex marriage was legalized, though, there are still people who are not on board with the idea. Social media platforms have reopened, and kept open, the discussion of lack of opportunity for colored Americans and have also brought to the attention of lack of representation of minorities in our daily lives. And it’s believed, that due to these actions, many minorities are finally getting the representation they deserve. Barack Obama, a black man, became president. Disney created its first tv show with LGBTQ main characters. Both Disney and Nickelodeon started new shows with predominately black cast members, Netflix released its first romantic comedy with predominately Asian characters, Viola Davis became the first black actor to achieve the Triple Crown of Acting. Though this is not all it takes to achieve equality, it is a start.
A discussion needs to be had between our society as a whole. No more talk about how racism is almost gone, that it’s been “fixed.” No more talk on how loving someone for what they have in their heart instead of what’s in their pants is a sin. No more generalizing and prejudged opinions on an entire group of people. No more stereotypes. We all need to open our eyes and see what’s actually going on in the world around us. The course of action we need to take to end social inequality all together comes in numerous steps. One being to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment so that women and men are treated equally in all aspects of society and lawfully beyond just our right to vote. We need to gain support from all genders and speak out to the leaders of our country to close the pay gap, gain their attention because they have been ignoring the severity of this issue for years. We need to develop a software that allows the people to decide where their taxpayer money goes, so we can choose locations and areas that need the funding most, like the reconstruction of low-income neighborhoods and schools. That way the schools can purchase better supplies to educate their students and these neighborhoods can become at least decent, quality, living areas without making it too expensive for them to still live within their homes.
The only way to fulfill the American dream and ensure the truth that all men are created equal—all humans, no matter their race, gender, wealth, religion, age, or sexual orientation are created equal, is to give all people equal opportunity without prejudice or discrimination. That’s all it really takes.